San Jose moves closer to vacant store registry

The San Jose City Council unanimously approved, with one absentee vote, a concept idea for an ordinance that would require owners of commercial properties in downtown that are vacant for more than 30 days to register for a Vacant Store Registry Program.

The proposed program looks to cleanup blight in the downtown area.

During the meeting’s public comment portion, some speakers expressed concern that downtown San Jose appeared unsafe at times due to the eyesore of shuttered businesses.

Deputy Director of Code Enforcement Diane Buchanan said businesses with an active building permit, active marketing for a building or have a lease agreement with a tenant can register – but it’s not clear what penalties the ordinance would impose on business owners that don’t.

City Attorney Rick Doyle pointed out that the city can only do so much when it comes to making property owners do anything as they are entitled to “constitutional rights” with their property.

Once the ordinance is fine tuned, the council expects to vote on it this spring, Buchanan said.

The city also unanimously passed, with one absentee vote, an ordinance that approved settlement terms between the city and the San Jose Retired Employees Association regarding pension reforms passed by voters in 2012.

An earlier news release said the settlement details would be similar to that of the Measure F pension compromise passed by voters in 2016.

The city says that compromise has secured close to $40 million in annual retirement cost savings, and boosted the city’s ability to recruit and retain employees.

The city also passed an ordinance that allows for the purchase of ten electric parking shuttle buses at the Mineta San Jose International Airport.

The 10 buses will replace the airport’s current fleet of natural gas shuttles. The conversion to the electric buses is expected to save the city $4 million on operational costs during their lifetime and also save 3.1 million pounds of greenhouse gas tailpipe emissions within that same span.

Liccardo said on Twitter that the passage of the ordinance to purchase the electric buses gets San Jose closer to being a city that has “an electric engine power every bus and shuttle on San Jose streets.” Councilwoman Sylvia Arenas wasn’t present at the meeting and did not cast a vote.